To Kill A Mockingbird Essay Example



In the coming of age novel To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, the Southern town of Maycomb is divided based on race and the social class of its inhabitants. Racism, prejudice, and injustice are common as many of the town’s citizens are corrupted by the hatred and spite of the world. However, there are a few characters in the story that remain noble and unbiased despite the culture in which they live. These people consist of the book’s heroes, including Atticus Finch, Tom Robinson, and Boo Radley. These people are associated with the mockingbird which symbolizes innocence, along with all of those who possess it.

The mockingbird itself represents a rare innocence. This theme is presented early in the novel when Atticus tells Scout, ”Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird” (Lee 103). Atticus does not care if his children shoot animals, as he lets them shoot at blue jays, but he will ever consider letting them shoot a mockingbird.  This is explained later by Ms. Maudie who reminds the children, ”Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. 

That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird” (Lee 103). Both Atticus and Ms. Maudie believe that mockingbirds should be left alone because they are pure creatures who do not hurt the others, but instead use their talents for the pleasure of others. Other birds, such as blue jays, can be shot because they take others, but the mockingbird alone is not guilty of these offences.  Because of its innocent nature, the mockingbird is used later in the novel to symbolize people who do not cause harm, but instead try to help others. The mockingbird is used to symbolize innocence due to its peaceful nature and gentleness towards others.

The mockingbird also represents those who display innocence, such as Boo Radley.  Boo is a resident of Maycomb who lives with his brother, Nathan. Because Boo rarely ever comes into contact with the outside world, many of Maycomb’s children have created wild stories about him such as how he eats raw animals and sneaks into people’s houses.  However, Boo remaining inside of his house has left him uncorrupted by the outside world.  When Jem tries to sneak onto the Radley’s property, he is almost shot by Nathan and accidentally loses his pants.  When he returns later that night to retrieve his clothing, he finds them stitched up by Boo Radley. 

Instead of being mad at Jem for trespassing, all Boo wants to do is help the child in any way he can. After this incident, Jem no longer bothers Boo and instead feels bad for him. Boo’s character is further revealed on one Halloween when Scout and Jem are walking home from a pageant. They are attacked by Bob Ewell, who knocks Jem unconscious and begins to squeeze Scout to death. However, Mr. Ewell is stabbed by Boo, who proceeds to carry Jem home. Boo heard that the children were in danger and immediately came to save them, despite the risks to his own safety. 

Even though Boo killed a man, he was acting in self-defense. Furthermore, he was able to prevent two child murders from taking place.  When talking with the Atticus about what had happened during the death of Mr. Ewell, Heck Tate declares, ” To my way of thinkin’, Mr. Finch, taking the one man who’s done you and this town a great service an’ draggin’ him with his shy ways into the limelight- to me, that’s a sin” (Lee 317). Tate realizes that Boo has an innocent nature and does not deserve to go through a court case, even if he will certainly win it. Boo just wants to go back to his house and keep to himself, despite his heroic actions.

Scout agrees that forcing Boo to take part in an investigation of Mr. Ewell’s death would likely destroy his innocence and she even comments that, ” Well, it’d be sort of like shootin’ a mockingbird, wouldn’t it?” (Lee 317).  Scout now realizes that Boo is not the monster that she thought he was and he even becomes her hero for saving her and her brother. Even though there are other mockingbirds in the novel, such as Atticus Finch and Tom Robinson, Boo Radley is the most clear cut as he cares for others and wishes no harm on anyone despite what they may do to him. Boo Radley and others who are innocent and uncorrupted by the world are represented by the mockingbird.

Innocence and the people who retain it are represented by the pure and simple Mockingbird  Mockingbirds do not cause pain, but bring happiness through their singing.  Likewise, people such as Boo Radley, who are unaffected by the anger and hate in the world, help other when they can. Characters such as Boo Radley demonstrate to the reader that even though we live in a world darkened by hate and injustice, their will always be those who care for others and remain as innocent as a mockingbird.